Perhaps the most surprising thing at yesterday's 27th annual Carroll County Wrestling Tournament in Winfield was that there really wasn't any big surprises.
And that was just fine with the favored Westminster Owls, who sent nine wrestlers to the finals -- seven of which were top seeds -- and finished with six individual champions to win a second straight county title with a solid 177-149.5 win over second-place Francis Scott Key.
North Carroll finished third with 111.5 points, followed by host South Carroll (69) and Liberty (49).
Of the 13 weight classes, only two had champions that didn't come in as top seeds -- second-seeded Steve Cahoon of Key won at 140 and South Carroll's third-seeded Jason Hamper captured the 152-pound crown.
"You try not to take things for granted, but everything went pretty much as expected," said Westminster coach Henry Mohlhenrich. "A couple of the matches were a little sloppier and closer than I would have liked but for the most part things went well."
With an eight-point lead over Key going into the finals, the No. 5 Owls took control from the start with five wins in the first six weight classes.
Chris Reiter (26-8) pinned North Carroll's Will Hann in the second period; Bobby Biden followed with a 15-4 major decision over Key's Ronnie Howard; Grant Lindsay won a tight 7-5 decision over Liberty's Mark Richards and Kyle Burger came away with a 4-0 decision over Key's Clint Day.
After Key's Matt Yinger scored a 15-0 technical fall over Westminster's Jimmy Reiter at 130, Westminster's Dave Spicer came back with a 6-0 decision over North Carroll's Travis Miller at 135.
The Owls clinched the match at 171 when North Carroll's Joe Hughes decisioned Key's Ryan Roach, but there was little doubt from the start.
With two straight titles, Mohlhenrich isn't ready to declare a dynasty just yet.
"It's real nice and we'll have a good team for awhile, but there's some tough wrestling in Carroll County," he said. "There was no blowout, no pins like boom-boom-boom! We had to work hard for this."
Hughes (23-1) was one of three Panthers to come away with individual titles. Adam Boog (17-5) pinned Westminster's Jared Brown at 160 and heavyweight Ben Fleming won his second straight county title with a 14-8 decision over Key's Mark Plank.
Key placed eight wrestlers in the finals in making its strong second-place showing.
But, Yinger and Cahoon were the only Eagles to win titles.
Howard hung tough against Biden. Roach, who in the regular season was pinned by Hughes in the first period, lost on an 8-4 decision.
The most entertaining match of the day had South Carroll's Mike Muller coming away with a 14-8 decision over Key's Tim Beale. Muller pinned Beale twice before, both in the first minute.
Yesterday, it was Beale who came out aggressive with two hard takedowns for a 4-0 lead.
"I went in knowing he was a good wrestler, but I already pinned him twice and I think maybe in his head he was thinking he wasn't going to let me pin him again," Muller said. "He was wrestling real tough so I just had to go to the basics."
In winning the 152-pound class, Hamper knocked off Key's second-seeded Billy Null, 19-6, in the semifinals before scoring a decision over top-seeded Austin Lanham of Westminster in the final.
Westminster's Ray Henry (26-3) pinned Key's Bobby Bollinger to win the 189-pound class.
Pub Date: 2/23/97